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Constantine Maroulis

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Constantine Maroulis walks through the bustling streets of New York City on the way to a meeting. “Jeez!” he yells as he weaves through crowds of people in the busy midtown area. “You know, I try and avoid these busy parts on most days.”

It’s a packed day for Maroulis and he called to start our interview a few minutes early so he doesn’t get behind schedule with his slew of interviews and meetings.  As a singer, actor and star of the Broadway show Rock of Ages, he understands what it’s like to have very little spare time. But when you are as passionate about performing as Maroulis, it’s all part of following a dream.

Born into a musical family, it was inevitable that Maroulis developed an interest in music. He recalls his mother singing around the house. “She had a beautiful tone to her voice; it always caught my ear,” he says. His brother was a successful underground artist in the late ’80s and ’90s and went on to do jazz recordings as well. His sister, now a school principal, grew up doing musicals in high school.

“They were just a huge influence on me,” he says. After his family moved from Brooklyn to the affluent community of Wyckoff, New Jersey when he was 5 years old, it was essential that Maroulis learn how to play an instrument. “The schools had a very strong support for the arts,” he recalls. While he wanted to play guitar, it was difficult for his parents, who both worked full time, to support the expenses that went with it. Instead, his mother found a good deal on an old Bundy trumpet.

“I loved the trumpet and I remember my teacher always said, ‘You have a great tone,’” Maroulis recalls. “I guess that sound comes from your mouth; you’re using that breath support, so it’s a lot like singing.”

Singing, Maroulis says, was always his first love. Though he played the trumpet in his school band, he knew deep down that singing was his true calling.

“It’s just one of those things that you’re pretty much born with,” Maroulis says of his vocal abilities. He remembers his first role in a school show, West Side Story, at the age of 13. “I was hoping for one of the leads but I wasn’t good enough yet; I didn’t have the confidence, so I was one of the Jets. You’d think some Greek kid from Brooklyn would at least have been one of the Sharks!” he says, laughing.

Slowly, Maroulis became more comfortable with the stage. As he developed his craft, he knew that this was going to be his career path. While in high school, he played in professional bands, doing NYC gigs and getting paid for them.

“I always had high test scores when I was young but I had poor grades. I just didn’t care,” Maroulis says. “It’s funny because now I preach higher education and I tell kids to do their work. I realize how important it is. But I was a late bloomer.”

After high school, Maroulis continued to perform. His first equity job was an ensemble/understudy role in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Theatre in Nyack, NY. “It’s one of my favorite shows,” Maroulis says. It was there he met actors who had graduated from The Boston Conservatory, which put the idea in Maroulis’ head that it was time for college and more training.

“I gave it a shot. I applied, I auditioned, I think I even received a partial scholarship,” Maroulis says. Because he enrolled in some college courses prior to his acceptance at the Conservatory, he was able to dive right into his second year, taking three years to complete the program. He graduated from high school in 1993, and began college six years later. “A lot of people do that in conservatories,” Maroulis explains, “I know 30-year-old undergrads at Juilliard, so it’s kind of a ‘when you’re ready to go’ thing.”

After Maroulis tragically lost his cousin on 9/11, he had a difficult senior year at school and “barely graduated,” he says. He did not perform in the senior showcase, where talent agents come to observe students. But Maroulis was determined to make it. He had his sights set on one role – Roger, the heartthrob rocker of the Broadway musical Rent.

Maroulis knows what he wants and that tends to get him what he wants. After school came New York City where he started a band called Pray for the Soul of Betty. Soon after, he assumed the role of Roger in the regional tour of Rent to a very enthusiastic audience and Pray for the Soul of Betty reaped the benefits.  While he admits the band wasn’t very good musically, he says they put on a great show. The band followed Maroulis to the cities where he was performing in Rent, bringing the Rent audience to their rock shows.

“People loved the band because they loved Roger,” Maroulis says. “Roger was a rocker and the band was heavy, but we had no songs, so that was tough.” The band has since stopped performing together.

When he returned to New York from touring in the summer of 2004, he realized the paycheck and the attention from fans had faded. It was time for a new gig. His girlfriend at the time, whom Maroulis describes as “pretty and persistent,” insisted they audition for the popular television show American Idol. They hopped on the $10 Chinatown bus to Washington D.C. and stood in line. She got cut the first round and “Well, the rest is history,” Maroulis says.

Maroulis commanded the stage and made it to the top six contestants before his elimination. Being in school and touring for the prior four years, he says he had never seen the show, and wishes he had an idea of what he was getting into. “If I had seen the show,” he says, “I think I would’ve done better.”

Maroulis says he learned skills and knowledge from day one on the show. “I learned the ins and outs of contracts, management, press, the pressures of going on a live show and performing at such a high level, working with fantastic professionals from the crew through the executive producers,” he says. “I’m a sponge. I just pick it up. It was the greatest boot camp you could ever ask for in performing arts training.”

Once eliminated from Idol, Maroulis “set his head on straight” and kept working. “Lots of great things happened,” he says. “Lots of things fell through, but you’ve got to keep pushing and believe in yourself.” After Idol came solo tours, solo albums and the stage, as well as television appearances on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. When asked if he has a favorite media of performing, he says, “It’s weird. I like to do all this stuff. That’s what’s spread me out pretty thin and maybe that’s why it’s taken me a few years to connect with the right project.”

That right project, he says, is his current role in Broadway’s Rock of Ages, where he can “get to do it all. I get to go on stage, go on TV and talk about a great project, sing, act, all of it.”

And while he says he feels comfortable on Broadway, don’t expect him to stop there. He says he’d love to break into film, with dreams—“and this is really shooting for the stars here”—to have a career like George Clooney and Hugh Jackman, who write, direct, act and produce.

“I’d love to produce Broadway shows,” Maroulis says. “I know how to raise money; I know the media. I know what the fans want and that would be wonderful. Do I want to connect the radio to a song of mine? Of course. Do I want to do new exciting theater projects in New York? That’s always been my dream; any actor wants that.”

As for specific film projects, Maroulis has a few ideas in mind. He’d love to be part of “some sort of underground independent film and some sort of big Twilight blockbuster film … that’d be freakin’ awesome,” he says.

And while he doesn’t have a great deal of free time, he makes sure to see his family and spend time with them. “I see my friends and go out socially a bit. It’s hard with my schedule and vocal demands, but I also love the Yankees and the Giants and love to go to the games. I play video games with my friends, read books, see other shows and travel. And someday I’d like to settle down and have a family of my own.”

He’s a self-described “regular guy,” but he has extraordinary talent. He loves watching Sports Center and putting his feet up. But don’t let that fool you. His professionalism is impeccable, his passion is undeniable, and his drive to continue to take his craft further is unstoppable. “I’ve always known that this is my life, my job, my craft,” Maroulis says. “This is what I do; no one is going to deny me my work.”    

 

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